Friday, April 9, 2010

In which Stapleton argues for larger observation of rocks.

Here's a shot of Bass Rocks, in Gloucester, I have an enormous file of pictures of rocks. The photos aren't that much use when I am painting water, but they are more useful when I am painting rocks. Still I do a lot of inventing. The above shot is about as perfect a little set up as you could ask for in a seascape. But it is still, "down in the hole". That is, a wave inserted into this basin would be sloshing harmlessly down around your feet, rather than coming at you at eye level, which is much more cool.

So if I am looking at this as a reference I will have to completely adjust the eye level. That gets really abstract and I can't hope to get an accurate reposition like rich Hollywood stars get with a 3D computer modeling program. But I don't need it, because I am going to design attractive shapes using only the broad ideas from the rocks. Herein follows a big idea, I hope I make it clear. I am referring to something like what Ives Gammell used to call the BIG LOOK.

I am going to notice the trends, or patterns, like the rocks get blue puddles on top and have some warm yellow facets that turn toward the viewer. I will use that red glow that "envelopes" the rocks, its like cherries down in the deep shadows. I will play that up for sure! There is also ultramarine down in those shadows which do all sort of run together. Look at how forcefully that big rock on the left juts out into the water. The furthest little rock in the distance has a wave shaped like a triangle hiding its base. And the upper part of that rock is green.

Those are large observations, rather than copying by studying out that this little piece of rock here goes next to the little detail there, and then next to that......... Do you see the difference? The design of the rocks will be mostly my own shapes, hopefully artistic, with some inflow of interesting facts from my references. Incidentally I generally have a a painting that I made on location as a jumping off point. My location sketches are too random and matter of fact to be called a real seascape in the grand sense of the word. That is an "engine", which is what the critics and academicians in the 19th century called the grand studio assembled creations of the salon era. I think a seascape should be an engine in that sense too, a crafted yet natural appearing arrangement that has a designed beauty greater than the randomness of a snapshot or an accurate study done in plein air.

I do sometimes get a sketch I make outside that can be morphed a little and work as a seascape, but generally I see them as tools for the production of largely synthetic pictures. All of the Vickerys and Waughs I have shown you were machined out in the shop by their makers.


Sharon Weaver said...

From your blogs on seascapes this is my take: The seascape is the invention of the artist who must know the architecture of the waves to make an accurate depiction. As an artist it seems my work is never done.

billspaintingmn said...

Like a master builder, you lay the foundation first, and build on that.
Or a Mistro that conducts his orchestra to make music.
Your painting is the sum of your understanding and creative energy.
Thanks Stape! I'm looking at my subject, (and myself) a bit differently.

billspaintingmn said...

I just now read your yesterday post
comments, Ha!
If I use seasalt will it tweek a more realistic look?
(I thought there she blows was when you spot a whale!?)

kev ferrara said...

Fascinating stuff. Thanks.

I like that term "engine." Is there a particular book that discusses the use of that term by the academicians?

Philip Koch said...

Good comment by Stape on the way he made an over all judgement about color in the rocks in that reference photo- cool tops and warmer color on the side. Whenever you can look out at something and make a meaningful generalization like that you're on your way to where you want to go.

barbara b. land of boz said...

Stapleton, thank you for the reminder to look at the Big Picture
first. The urge to "photo-copy" is
hard to pass by in using reference material sometimes.

So when do we see the demos on your
seascapes? I'm glad that I saw you do one in person in Rolling Fork,Ms
It makes your posts on this subject easier to understand.
I urge one and all to take one of your workshops. It will be, money well spent.

Unknown said...

What I understand you to say is:
Analyze - observe, compare, etc.

Generalize - determine from those observations the big idea of any shape as to color, value,temperature, special feature, etc.

Particularize - take those generalizations and apply them to the particular painting and view you are working on.

billspaintingmn said...

Ok Stape, I did a Seastape in your honor.
I used an art book, and some seasalt. A pail of water and an air conditioner.
It's on my blog if you want to take a gander at it!
I think I will paint more of these,
there fun!

Stapleton Kearns said...

That is exactly it. Just like doing figures. Only more so imagine the figure being in constant motion.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I think seascapes are a lot of fun. Put more ice in the water!...............Stape

Stapleton Kearns said...

I don't know of a book to send you to. But you should read Kenyon Cox to see that line of thinking.He wrote the classic point of view. It can be read online for free.

Stapleton Kearns said...

We have to have a number of different ways of seeing in the toolkit.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I will do a demo in a couple of weeks. I am need to do a bunch of prep work first.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Thank you. I appreciate the compliment. I will do a demo soon.